The notification came yesterday.
Peter’s been found.
And later the update on Facebook:
On behalf of the Spear family.
“It is with the deepest sorrow we have ever experienced that we report to you that our precious Peter Spear’s body was found and we have identified it. We are together as a family and lovingly supported by friends. The community of love that came together around Peter was a testament to how he cared for each of us. We know that you love Peter and that you love us and want to help. As needs arise we will not hesitate to reach out. Please continue to pray for us. No arrangements have been made yet. We will share those details as plans go forward.”
One particular memory is coming in clear paragraphs to my mind. Questions in sentences. Prayers in short phrases. At times like this the mind and soul can move in different directions.
The last Thanksgiving before I moved to China, the Spears came to our house for the meal. I took many, many photos to be able to share “A real American Thanksgiving” with my Chinese students. Those photos were laminated (this was before the days of the internet and easy access to what we in the teaching biz call “realia”) and have been passed around many a classroom in China. Two pictures have come to mind this week, and to a certain extent haunt me.
In one, my dad is carving the turkey and he’s turned to smile at me. In another, the food is being passed around the table and Susan has the serving plate filled with turkey and is helping the child to her left.
I have looked at these photos for years. I have used the again and again. Even when it was time to return to the States, I couldn’t quite part with them though they have long lost their teaching value. They are somewhere in the basement with my other worldly treasure shipped from China.
How is it that Peter and Dad died in the same year? One was sad, but more at the end of a life. One still in the early phases.
How did it come to pass the man carving the turkey and the boy eating it would enter eternity within months of each other?
There are more questions. I image you can guess them.
But the prayers, the prayers are, I want to say lacking, but that’s not the right word. They are so basic, so short, so raw. It’s more a rendition of help, help, help.
Peter was the meat in the sibling sandwich. He has an older and younger sister. And now they are two pieces of bread, can you be a sandwich when your middle is missing? Yes and no. Remember them too.
This has been a year of loss for the Spears. As you pray for them, this is not the first loss, but it is by far the most awful. This weekend, knowing that we live round the world, as they come to mind, please keep praying for them in the tragic here and now and for all of the details that are before them.
I love the ways you rallied quickly yesterday. I felt this space was, in a very small way, a place where, like Job’s friends, we could sit together with them without bothering or interrupting. Let’s sit some more.
Oh God, help, help, help. Amen.